The Phenomeno-Logic of the I. Essays on Self-Consciousness. (Book reviews: summaries and comments).
The book first clarifies the concept of "he." Castaneda distinguishes between "he" and "he himself." "He" can be analyzed whereas "he himself" cannot, because "he himself" or I cannot be an object of experience for somebody else. Castaneda develops this Kantian and Humean perspective by attributing to the I a referential priority (there is only one I), an ontological priority (there is the infallibility of reference to the I), and an epistemological priority (that is the ineliminability of the I). The book then explores indicators and quasi-indicators. Indicators are personal references, such as "this," "I," "that," "you," "here," "there," and "now" (p. 61), made by the speaker in relation to his or her experience. Quasi-indicators are interpersonal references that have epistemological validity.
The I can be sure of its existence. However, the I as thinking and feeling entity is not identical with its body nor is it in the world. Rather, "it must be identifiable in terms of entities in the world" (p. 95). Castaneda thus establishes a difference between experience and its source. He perceives different levels of selves that are connected to each other. Referring to the phenomenological unreflective consciousness, Castaneda argues for self-consciousness to be based on an egoless consciousness, "that is typical of the perceptions and bodily feelings of many animals" (p. 103). He then cites blindsight, afterimages, itchings, and pains as proof of an independent consciousness within the self. He calls this kind of consciousness an "Externus type of thinking" (p. 160). This clearly contradicts the prevalent Fichtean assumption that all consciousness must be self-consciousness. Castaneda develops a hierarchy of consciousness wherein higher forms of consciousness lower forms are cumulated. He distinguishes seven levels of consciousness or I-strands: "1. sensory content, conceptually inarticulated: (a) bodily, (b) worldly; 2. I-less articulated content pertaining to: (a) external objects, (b) bodily content, (c) occurring mental acts; 3. I-less focal consciousness, the core of which is a complex of perceptual judgments; 4. I-owned content articulating the contrast between Serf and Object; 5. I-owned content articulating intentional agency; 6. I-owned content articulating the contrast between Serf and others; 7. I-owned content articulating an interaction between Serf and you as well as absent persons" (p. 278).
Level 2 is also called zero-consciousness (p. 279) and is ascribed to animal consciousness. Level 3 involves a perspectival organization. Reflexivity emerges on level 4, level 5 signifies solipsistic consciousness, and on level 6, the I discovers its social limits. Level 7 is characterized by "personal relationships, cooperative plans and personal conflicts" (p. 282).
In completing his phenomenological approach, Castaneda introduces his Guise Theory to explain the multiplicity of human thinking. In Guise Theory an I-guise is comprised of an experience in the here and now. This I-guise constitutes the "doxastic co-denotata of a term" (p. 182) that underlies the "semantico-pragmatic referent of a term" (p. 182). An I-guise itself is characterized by consubstantiation that is perceived indexicality and contextuality. I-guises are also influenced by transubstantiations that constitute the identity of an I over time. Guise Theory assumes that experiences are built upon and point toward or harpoon the Kantian noumena. The ego itself then emerges as transubstantiated I-guises. An I-guise, in turn, is based upon the different levels of consciousness. It is at this juncture where psychiatry can inform the philosophy of mind because psychiatry can "delineate the different types of integrating and unifying relations" (p. 249) within each person.
The editors must be lauded for selecting and arranging Castaneda's essays in a way that clearly reveals Castaneda's thorough and highly detailed analysis of the I. Though Castaneda's language is often not easily accessible, he must be credited for avoiding the pitfalls of unwarranted conclusions about the I and the world by scrutinizing the ontological structure of experiences.--Erich P. Schellhammer, University of Regina.
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|Author:||Schellhammer, Erich P.|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2001|
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